As a reminder, Access is a new pivot point for social impact and social cohesion. Access to healthcare, access to welfare support, access to education, access to employment, access to technology, access to knowledge and information. Basically, access to anything. Central to this challenge is our attitude towards access as a concept. Do we:
- Insist that everyone has access to all services and support regardless?
- Require access to only the basic services and support?
- Require paid access to services and support?
- Limit access on some other basis?
And who decides this?
We need to ask ourselves, what are we as a society prepared to pay for or live with? Do we want the kind of society where everyone is able to be the best versions of themselves that they can be and that this is paid for somehow centrally, locally, through taxes or service charges? Or do we want the kind of society where access is limited and dependant on certain qualifications? Or even variations on both positions – a sort of blended approach?
Access as a policy issue and as a practical issue is becoming even more important as here in the UK we’ve seen how the current government is pursuing an ideological path based on exclusion and division.
The challenge in the UK is to find a way forward that places society and social provision outside of party politics and political manifestos. To do this we need to urgently have a national conversation to understand and agree on what kind of country we want to be post-Brexit, post-Covid, post-recession and use this as a framework to deliver better social cohesion across the board.
Clarity on the kind of place the UK wants to be is essential if we want to have a high standard of living, a cohesive society and a strong and sustainable economy. All of this starts with understanding the notion of Access.